The Caped Crusader is no stranger to animation. From Batman and Robin's appearances in the SuperFriends to the classic Batman: The Animated Series, cartoons have helped mold the modern idea of how Batman and his villains should look and act. I'm sure I'm not the only one who hears Mark Hamill's voice in my head whenever I read something involving the Joker. In fact, the only reason I became a Batman fan at all is because I watched the Animated Series when I was a kid.There truly is no better way to become acquainted with Batman, his world and his assortment of colourful villains. The series features origin stories for all of the classic Batman villains, a revamped origin for Mr. Freeze that won an Emmy, gorgeous visuals and production value that is beyond compare for a children's cartoon. The same can be said of the writing, which is kid-friendly without being simplistic. To put it simply, if you have not seen Batman: The Animated Series you are not only missing out on one of the great kid's shows of all time, but one of the great TV shows of all time.Frankly, the fact that Batman: The Animated Series (I'll call it B:TAS from this point forward) is so comprehensive and iconic has left any Batman cartoons that have followed with a rather high bar to clear. 2004 saw the first attempt at a follow up to B:TAS, simply titled "The Batman". The show attempted to distance itself from its predecessor by focusing more on fight scenes and action as well as highlighting characters that didn't get as much focus in B:TAS.The best example of this is Penguin (voiced by Tom Kenny of Spongebob fame) who in this version is a portly kung fu master. By taking a villain who was fairly forgettable in the previous series and bumping them up to A-List status, The Batman helped differentiate itself from its legendary predecessor. The Batman also did a great job doing the same thing with Clayface, who in this version is a childhood friend of Bruce and a victim of the Joker, and Killer Croc, who is portrayed as an intelligent mobster from New Orleans, but unfortunately the show did essentially end up becoming a watered down version of B:TAS. Giving Joker dreadlocks simply wasn't enough, and soon the show stopped focusing on using lesser known villains and began using the same A-listers over and over again. I personally find The Batman to be a forgettable, though fairly well made, Batman cartoon. The Batman ran for 5 seasons, and received a TV movie, but is not very well regarded in fan circles.The next Batman cartoon differentiated itself in a number of ways. 2008's Batman: The Brave and the Bold attempted to accomplish to bold task of appealing to both young children and hardcore DC fans. Taking the name of the classic DC comic series, which would team-up two random heroes, Brave and the Bold serves as a guide to the DC universe. Each episode features Batman teaming up with a different heroes and fighting lots of different villains. While we do of course get a decent amount of Joker, this show mainly removed Batman from Gotham and mainly used villains that are not usually associated with Batman.If you have never seen Brave and the Bold, I would highly recommend it. It's a love letter to all the weirdness in comic books. If you are new to comics, it's a great way to get introduced to lots of great characters that often don't get focus; if you're an expert, the show is chock full of references that will make your geeky heart grow three sizes that day. The show ran for three season and is fairly well regarded by fans (aka 4chan).The fact that Brave and the Bold steered away from Batman characters in general, and the fact that The Batman failed to gain a following in the way that B:TAS did, showed the dilemma that Batman would have moving forward: how can an action Batman cartoon be made without being overshadowed be B:TAS? In the next part of this three part series, I'll argue that the little watched Beware The Batman mananged to do exactly that. How? By delivering on the promise of freshness first made by The Batman in 2004.Next time: Building a Better "The Batman"